By Tom Chapman
For The Catholic Messenger
The Iowa House adjourned at about 6 a.m. May 1 after an all-night session. The Senate finished with budget bills early May 1, but before adjourning May 2, passed a resolution giving the Senate Government Oversight Committee subpoena power to investigate “secret settlements” in state government.
During the last day or so of the session, the Iowa Catholic Conference (ICC) was part of discussions regarding an amendment to the “standings” appropriations bill to increase funding of transportation services for nonpublic school students. However, it became clear that the House was going to use procedural maneuvers to rule amendments out of order. Both chambers did pass a $50,000 increase for textbook/technology funding for nonpublic school students.
One of the final bills of the session was a “one-time spending” bill, Senate File 2363, which appropriated about $140 million dollars for miscellaneous projects, including paying off bonds. We were pleased to see that one such project was a $2 million appropriation for LIHEAP, the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program. LIHEAP helps lower-income people pay heating bills and assists with emergency propane deliveries. The community action agencies of Iowa were asking for a one-time appropriation for LIHEAP to help replace funds used last winter and enable the pre-purchase of propane when it’s cheaper this summer.
In other news from last week related to our legislative concerns:
• The Senate passed House File 2468, a $2,500 state tax credit for parents with adoption expenses. The bill goes to the governor. Thanks so much for your contacts with legislators in support of the bill! It made a difference.
• The final version of the state’s human services budget bill, HF 2463, contained a proposal allowing recipients of child care assistance to count both work and school hours (rather than one OR the other) towards a “28-hour” requirement. We believe this proposal better reflects the needs of those who qualify for child care assistance.
The final version of HF 2463 did not make permanent the “family planning waiver” passed several years ago. This waiver provides government-funded pregnancy prevention services for men and women who are under 55 years of age with an income of up to 300 percent of the federal poverty level.
Immigration reform still at issue
Contrary to what you may be reading or hearing, the issue of immigration reform is not dead. Later this month, we’ll provide you more information on an upcoming national “call-in day” to Congress.
In the meantime, visit the ICC website (www.iowacatholicconference.org) and read the Iowa bishops’ most recent statement on the immigration issue.